Odisha FC will look for a rare source of joy when it takes on second-placed ATK Mohun Bagan in the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21) clash at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Saturday. With just one win to its name, Odisha FC has endured a dismal season and it only got worse when head coach Stuart Baxter was sacked last week following his unsavoury comments after the loss to Jamshedpur.
Interim head coach Gerald Peyton has a herculean task ahead of him as he seeks to rebuild his side against Antonio Habas’ high-flying ATK Mohun Bagan. Odisha, languishing at the bottom of the table, has the second-worst defence in the league and will miss the services of club captain and Newcastle legend Steven Taylor due to a one-match suspension.
The attack has also failed to impress, with the side being overly dependent on Diego Mauricio for the goals upfront. The Brazilian has scored over 50 per cent of Odisha FC’s goals this season.
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Talking ahead of the game, Peyton said, “If you look at nearly all the games we’ve played, we’ve been a fraction away (from getting results). It’s been one goal in every game and finding that combination to go and win games, I’m sure we are going to find that.”
He added, “We had a few meetings and it’s been very, very positive for everybody connected. It brought us together. All the senior players and all the Indian players, we are getting together now. We are going to show in the last six games, a very positive attitude and a determination to win as many games as possible and take the club forward.”
Podcast – The merger between ATK and Mohun Bagan for ISL 2020-21 seemed like a match made in heaven, but fans didn’t look pleased. Our reporters Shyam Vasudevan, Aashin Prasad and Amitabha Das Sharma delve into the reasons behind fans’ displeasure and the raging hashtag #RemoveATK in the latest episode of ‘The Full Time Show’.
ATK Mohun Bagan comes into the tie after a lion-hearted comeback against Kerala Blasters. The Mariners conceded twice but came back finely to ride on Roy Krishna’s brace and earn a 3-2 win. Marcelo Pereira’s arrival has added a new dimension in attack, while the signing of midfielder Lenny Rodrigues will further bolster Habas’ side. However, the Mariners will be without Carl McHugh, who is out due to suspension, and will be keen to address the defensive woes that have seen them manage only one cleansheet in five games.
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“The (level of) competition in the ISL means that there are no small teams. There are special situations that when the team changes their head coach, there is always more motivation for the players. We have to play the match the same way we would have played against a strong team like Mumbai City,” said Habas.
ATK Mohun Bagan emerged the victor in a 1-0 win when the two sides last met.